A Solognote flying flock near the Maison du Parc in the Brenne.Usually old, traditional, sometimes rare breeds are used. In the Brenne the breed of sheep used is the Solognote. They also use Konik or Camargue ponies, or Salers cattle, depending on the type of 'finish' required. Each type of animal crops the grass differently, resulting in different lengths of sward and differing amounts of trampling or bare patches. Which type of animal is used depends on what species the site is being managed for. Sometimes it is nesting birds, sometimes it is orchids, sometimes it is a butterfly. Experience has shown that carefully managing a site for a flagship species with very narrow ecological requirements is usually more effective for creating overall high biodiversity than managing a site for a wider group of generalist species that tend to be ubiquitous no matter how you maintain the site.
Solognotes are one of the oldest and rarest breeds of sheep in France, originating in Berry and the Loire Valley. They are adapted to damp, poor pastures and are traditionally farmed very extensively (ie very low stocking rate). They became important in Renaissance times as wool producers and were fattened to eat. Numbers peaked in the first half of the 19th century, but by the second half of that same century they were threatened by the rise of large scale drainage programmes and commercial hunting activities in their Sologne heartland (situated between the Loire and Cher rivers).